Turnovers, safeties doom Summit High football in first loss of season, to Moffat County

BRECKENRIDGE — Penalties and self-inflicted mistakes put the Summit High School varsity football team (1-1) in a difficult position on a soggy Friday evening, and the Tigers lost to the Moffat County Bulldogs (1-0) 41-8.

The loss dropped the Tigers’ record on the year to 1-1 while the Bulldogs began their season with a convincing victory. Senior running back Kevin Hernandez gashed the Tigers defense for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in a first half where the Bulldogs seized control of the game 25-0 by the break.

The early going looked promising for the Tigers when senior safety Alexi Urtusuastegui-Nevarez, who returned for Summit after missing last week’s season-opening win over Salida, intercepted Moffat County quarterback Ryan Peck with 8:16 left in the first quarter. The Tigers soon stalled, and Summit wasn’t able to get much going offensively in the first half, running just 18 offensive plays in the first half to Moffat County’s 35. The Tigers totaled 26 yards rushing on 10 attempts in the first half and seven yards passing.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Hernandez on the opening play of the second quarter. Moffat County then took firm control of the game with 10:17 on the clock in the second quarter when Tigers junior quarterback Cam Kalaf threw an interception on what appeared to be a sprint-out pass play that broke down. Moffat County senior defensive back Dagan White returned the interception for a touchdown.

Less than a minute later, as the rainfall became heavier at Tiger Stadium, Kalaf wasn’t able to corral a wet ball on a shotgun snap near Summit’s own goal line, leading to a safety and a 16-0 lead for Moffat County.

The Tigers defense responded, and with eight minutes remaining in the half, they stopped the Bulldogs offense. Summit took over on its own 2-yard line. The Bulldogs run defense was able to fire off the ball on the first play of the Tigers drive, tackling a Summit rusher in the Tigers end zone for another safety and an 18-0 lead with 7:47 left in the quarter.

“In the first half, we shot ourselves in the foot so much,” Tigers first-year head coach James Wagner said. “We put ourselves in bad situations in terms of field position — wasn’t picking up the ball on kickoffs, a lot of penalties in the first half, couldn’t get off the field on third downs, and turning the ball over. When we don’t take care of the ball and have penalties the way we did, you’re not going to win very many ball games. And so it is what it is. And, you know what, it’s an opportunity for us to go back to the film and correct the things we want to correct.”

Hernandez, who shined on the ground in a victory versus Summit last season, then put the exclamation point on his first half by breaking a 39-yard touchdown run to the outside of the Tiger defense to give the Bulldogs a 25-0 lead.

Summit responded out of the gate in the second half, taking a crucial 4th-and-1 play at midfield to the house. Sophomore quarterback Kalaf, who finished the day with 90 yards rushing on nine attempts, broke a quarterback sneak up the A-gap loose for a 50-yard touchdown scamper. Summit pulled within 25-8 after a Kalaf run into the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Moffat County then put the game out of reach on another Hernandez touchdown run, this one coming from nine yards out with 10:06 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a 33-8 edge.

The Tigers were set back Friday night due to some early injuries. A week after he wreaked havoc in the trenches on both sides of the football, Summit sophomore Jackson Segal injured his ankle during one of the game’s first plays, forcing him to sit for the rest of the night. Summit also lost a two-way starter in Julian Broughton early in the contest. Kalaf exited the game late in the second half with a shoulder injury that Wagner said turned out to be a stinger.

Heading into their next contest at home versus Conifer (7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium), Wagner is hopeful the Summit squad will bounce back after realizing what did them in Friday night.

“It’s hard to fight back from that when you’re down like that,” Wagner said. “There are so many things we can correct. And I was telling them, ‘Hey, there is nowhere else I’d rather be than with your guys. And we’ve got so many games ahead of us, let’s correct the mistakes that we made and get after it next week. You’ve got plenty of games left to play.’”

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